Magazine article The Spectator

Reviewing the Past

Magazine article The Spectator

Reviewing the Past

Article excerpt

I was taken out to lunch one day last week by an old friend who spends as much time as I do in the past and we remembered old faces, old friends and even the odd enemy. At the end of our meal he surprised me by producing a typed list of those we had known who had died in action who had been fixtures and fittings in Soho since about 1960, who appeared mostly in the French House and the Colony Room Club. It must have been one of the longest running reviews of all time but, unlike most cabarets, there were plenty of parts for straight actors and tragedians as well as tumblers and conjurers. Sadly, I have forgotten most of the jokes and I feel less inclined to make any.

To put it another way, ever since collapsing in Morocco and now being on dialysis, death has lost its charm for me and I am now actually frightened of dying. I am sure that we will not all end up at a party in Heaven and that if we meet again it will be in a communal gathering of worms. Of the 20-odd photographic portraits on my wall, nine are dead and more are confined to photo albums. On one cheery little wall in the hall there are three photographs of three ex-wives who I see every time I leave my flat and then again when I return to it. I sometimes think what incredibly unsuitable couples we made but it is also fractionally consoling to think that I didn't put any one of them off getting married again. I wonder what on earth they thought they were getting on both occasions and even the one who once famously said, 'I thought you'd change and settle down,' what on earth did she think I would change into?

Looking at all those pictures again and again, I am surprised to see only one and a half suicides. The one being John Minton and the half being Eva, who went to bed drunk one afternoon with a cigarette and burnt herself to death. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.